NHRA pre-US Nationals test at Lucas Oil Raceway, Brownsburg, IN, USA, August 24-25, 2016

Joey Gladstone With a 3 Race NHRA Deal

photos and story by Tim Hailey with a lil' help from the NHRA


Yessir that is indeed Joey Gladstone's mug beneath the Lucas Oil Raceway crossover bridge and behind the windscreen of Joe Riccardi's San Marino Excavating Pro Stock Suzuki. He is expected to ride the bike at Indy, Maple Grove and Vegas as regular rider Brian Pretzel recovers from rotator cuff surgery.

The team broke in a brand new motor put in last night up the street at Vance & Hines, even running 40 weight oil. So Joey wasn't expecting to rotate the earth today, and didn't, running clean 7 second launches until a Zeus fastener broke on the fairing and funnel clouds passed over the track. It was indeed kind of fun and exciting.

Brittany Force eyes the long maned Gladstone as they both suit up. Sorry Brittany, Joey's taken

Gladstone toting the wheel on the pass that later saw the fairing come loose. Safety Safari radioed back to IRP starter Dwayne Lang that it looked like the ordeal almost pitched Joey, but he shook it off. "After riding Pro Street bikes when they start to curl up at 200 mph, there's not much that can really surprise you. My main concern was to be in high gear and just slowly lift out of it.

"Joe Riccardi's really great working with me to get comfortable on the bike. Luckily, the bike is built for a smaller rider (Pretzel is tiny, weighing in 20 pounds lighter than Gladstone) so it fits me well and is easy to handle."

Eddie Krawiec rattled off laps of 6.82, .84 and .86—twice. The 6.86 at 194 mph laps were nearly identical despite going from sun to clouds and an increase in humidity.

Riccardi and the San Marino bike are Vance & Hines customers, and when Pretzel went in for surgery, Krawiec pitched Gladstone to Riccardi as a replacement. "Eddie's like a big brother," said Gladstone. "He helps me out with a lot of things."

Anthony Vanetti manhandling the Lucas Oil Buell

Hector Arana seems to be smoking an imaginary cigar

Andrew Hines looks for help lining up.

That's what you call shaking and striking the tires....Richie Crampton recovered from this pass to later post quickest time of the day with a 3.701 seconds at 320.28 mph—quicker by a mile than the official track record of 3.74.

Drivers of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series took to the dragstrip for the first of a two-day test in preparation for the world’s most prestigious drag race, held Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at the famed NHRA-owned multi-purpose motorsports facility just west of downtown Indianapolis. The event, which will also feature theTraxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel and Funny Car, is the final race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season and will be televised by FOX and FOX Sports 1 with expanded coverage during Labor Day weekend.

Crampton, who also won the 2014 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, posted the quickest Top Fuel pass of the session when he navigated his Lucas Oil dragster down the track in 3.701 seconds at 320.28 mph. The time is quicker than the current Lucas Oil Raceway elapsed time track record of 3.740 seconds held by Shawn Langdon. Crampton unofficially broke the track elapsed time record at last year’s test session, too.

“We came out of the box swinging today,” said Crampton, who will enter the event eighth in the points standings. “The conditions were cool today which offered up some great track conditions. Not sure what the race is going to hold for us as far as weather goes so hopefully tomorrow we will see some warmer weather to get some more information for the Big Go.”

Brittany Force powered to the second quickest time in Top Fuel with a 3.725 at 324.40. The pilot of the Monster Energy dragster for John Force Racing tallied four runs in the 3.70-second range during the first day of testing. She is a three-time 2016 winner and will pull into the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals fourth in points.

“We’re excited to be here, especially coming off of a huge win for us,” said Force, who sprinted to victory last weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. “We tested today, made four runs and went down the racetrack every single time and ran in the low-3.70 range every single run. We’re happy. We got exactly what we needed to set us up for this next weekend. Each run we were testing something different and we didn’t know what it was going to do, but we are happy with what we got.”

Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham hopped back into a Top Fuel dragster on Wednesday to help test Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools machine. Worsham, who raced to the Funny Car victory last weekend in Brainerd in his DHL Toyota Camry, notched a 3.727 at 319.89 in Kalitta’s dragster for third best in Top Fuel. He is no stranger to a Top Fuel cockpit as he won the 2011 Top Fuel world championship.

Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher recorded the fourth quickest time with a 3.743 at 322.50 in his U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher is a nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner and is currently fifth in points.

Reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown raced to a 3.745 at 322.96 for fifth quickest on day. Brown, the points leader, has driven his Matco Tools dragster to the Winner’s Circle four times this season in eight final round appearances. “We are working on things with the clutch pack, trying to implement a new disc in our pack and been working on some other things that we have been wanting to test,” said Brown, the 2011 Indianapolis event winner. “We got two good runs in which were quality runs. The car did exactly what we wanted it to do and we are learning. We are polishing what we got so we can finish the rest of the year. We are hitting our stride right where we want to and this test has been very crucial.”

Sure, I got the whole car, but only wanted to focus on the business end of J.R. Todd's SealMaster Top Fuel car

Shawn Langdon was sixth in his Red Fuel / Sandvik Coromant dragster with a 3.835 at 264.60 while J.R. Todd was seventh in his SealMaster dragster with a 3.865 at 262.90. Wayne Newby followed in eighth with a 3.866 at 274.44.

Leah Pritchett, piloting the Papa John’s dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, was ninth with a 3.916 at 236.84. Pritchett is in a heated points battle with Terry McMillen, driver of the Amalie Motor Oil XTERMIGATOR dragster. The two are currently tied for 10th and will duke it out at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the final spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoff. McMillen is not in attending the Indy test session.

Capping off Wednesday’s top-10 is Morgan Lucas, the reigning event champion, with a 4.329 at 186.90.

Funny Car teams also tested their 10,000 horsepower racecars on Wednesday at Lucas Oil Raceway. Tommy Johnson Jr. led the pack with a 3.890 at 324.12 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. His time and speed are both quicker and faster than the current track records. Matt Hagan was second quickest with a 3.921 at 276.07 in his Mopar / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T and was followed by Courtney Force in third with a 3.931 at 276.07 in her Traxxas Chevy Camaro.

Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines were also testing their Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidsons on Wednesday. Krawiec, the category points leader, rode to a 6.823 at 194.88 to better teammate Hines. Hines crossed the finish line 6.892 at 193.90. Krawiec is a three-time 2016 event winner and won at Indy in 2014. Reigning world champ Hines sits second in the standings and trails Krawiec by only 42 points. Hines won at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 2012.

The second day of the closed test session will continue on Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Below is a listing of each Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor’s best performance from Wednesday’s testing:

Top Fuel

1. Richie Crampton 3.706, 320.28
2. Brittany Force 3.725, 324.20 (Had four runs in the 3.70 range)
3. Del Worsham (In Doug Kalitta Mac Tools dragster) 3.727, 319.89
4. Tony Schumacher 3.743, 322.50
5. Antron Brown 3.745, 322.96
6. Shawn Langdon 3.835, 264.60
7. JR Todd 3.865, 262.90
8. Wayne Newby 3.890, 274.44
9. Leah Pritchett 3.916, 236.84
10. Morgan Lucas 4.329, 186.90

Funny Car

1. Tommy Johnson 3.890, 324.12 (ET is lower and speed higher than current track records)
2. Matt Hagan 3.921, 276.07
3. Courtney Force 3.931, 276.07
4. Del Worsham (In Alexis DeJoria Patron Tequila car) 3.983, 292.77
5. Chad Head 4.025, 259.46
6. Del Worsham (In Alexis DeJoria Patron Tequila car)
7. Robert Hight 7.067, 96.71
8. John Force 7.355, 87.85

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1. Eddie Krawiec 6.823, 194.88
2. Andrew Hines 6.892, 193.90

Thursday Day 2

Top Fuel teams tested their 10,000 horsepower dragsters for a second time on at Lucas Oil Raceway. Richie Crampton continues to lead the pack with a 3.676 at 323.58 in his Lucas Oil dragster. Doug Kalitta was second quickest with a 3.686 at 328.86 in his Mac Tools dragster and was followed by nine-time U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher who had a 3.717 at 299.40 in his U.S. Army dragster.

"Being the quickest car both days is very rewarding," said Crampton, who hails from Adelaide, South Australia, but now resides in Brownsburg, Ind. "Aaron (Brooks, crew chief) and the guys have figured a lot of stuff out lately and it's coming at the perfect time with Indy and the Countdown to the Championship right on front of us.

"We ran a 3.696 up in Seattle a few weeks ago, which was my personal best, so it wasn't a complete surprise to run another 3.60 here, but running 3.60's isn't everything in this sport. We know we need to get our car to run in the heat also. Right now we're digging the cooler conditions and I personally hope it stays this way next weekend."

Tommy Johnson Jr. posted the quickest time in Funny Car Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis during the final day of testing for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

Johnson Jr., who finished third in the championship points for the second consecutive year in 2015, posted the quickest Funny Car pass of the session when he piloted his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T down the track in 3.896 seconds at 318.84 mph. The time is quicker than the current Lucas Oil Raceway elapsed time track record of 3.936 seconds held by Jack Beckman. On Wednesday, Johnson Jr.’s time and speed bettered both ends of the track records.

“Coming out here and doing two days of testing gives you a feel for the track, the conditions and just getting familiar with the track,” Johnson Jr. said. “I think it gives you an advantage coming into Q1 Friday night in front of the big crowd. You have a little more confidence and you have a good idea of what you need to do to make [the car] run well.”

Courtney Force improved on her time yesterday with a 3.899 at 325.69 in her Traxxas Chevy Camaro. Courtney is currently second in points behind Ron Capps who is not testing this weekend. She is looking for her first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win and would join her father John who has won the event four times and her sister Ashely who has won it twice.

“Coming off of our performance in Brainerd, going to the semis, the Chevy Camaro was doing great so there wasn’t really a ton we wanted to change,” C. Force said. “We actually brought out our spare car and have been testing a lot things with that. Got the spare car running good and it’s right there with the car that I’m currently running. We tried a bunch of different things and learned from it.

“To be honest, we are really excited. We brought the spare car out because we want to be able to have a back-up car that’s ready to go and can be in contention if we need it for the Countdown to the Championship. Just trying to look ahead and really excited with what we’ve seen.”

The 2009 Funny Car world champion, Robert Hight, improved on his Wednesday test session with a time of 3.929 at 327.66 for the third best time in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro on Thursday. His speed is unofficially better than the track record of 323.74 held by Beckman. Hight was runner-up in last year’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the second consecutive year and has won the race three times, most recently in 2013.

Reigning Funny Car World Champion Del Worsham ran the fourth best time in his Kalitta Racing teammate Alexis DeJoria’s Patron Tequila Toyota Camry. Worsham put up a 4.652 at 178.33. The U.S. Nationals is schedule to be DeJoria’s return from an injury she suffered in Sonoma.

World Record holder in both time and speed, Matt Hagan, had the fifth best time at Thursday’s test session. Hagan powered his Mopar / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T to a 6.252 at 111. 57. Hagan has yet to make a finals appearance at the U.S. Nationals but has been the No. 1 qualifier three times.

Sixteen-time world champion John Force had the sixth best time with a pass of 8.137 at 89.26 in his Peak Antifreeze Chevy Camaro. The seventh best time went defending Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner Beckman with an 8.476 at 81.97.

“A lot of teams are out here practicing more than testing, in other words they are sticking with their combinations and are fine tuning it,” Beckman said. “We chose to treat it like a true test session we made some changes in the bell housing with the clutch levers with clutch discs. As you progress through the season you will run out of batches of clutch discs and you hope that it is a seamless transition to the next one. Testing is what usually helps you get that way and that is what we used it for.”

Chad Head was eighth in his Head Racing Toyota Camry with a 10.280 run at 61.50. Head is still battling to earn his spot into the Countdown and will be battling against DeJoria, and Cruz Pedregon for the final Funny Car spot.

Below is a listing of each Top Fuel and Funny Car competitor’s best performance from Thursday’s testing:

Funny Car

1. Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.896, 318.84
2. Courtney Force 3.899, 325.69
3. Robert Hight 3.929, 327.66
4. Del Worsham 4.652 178.33 (In Tequila Patron Car)
5. Matt Hagan 6.252, 111.57
6. John Force 8.137, 89.26
7. Jack Beckman 8.476, 81.97
8. Chad Head 10.280, 61.50

Top Fuel

1. Richie Crampton 3.676, 323.58
2. Doug Kalitta 3.686, 328.86
3. Tony Schumacher 3.717, 299.40
4. Shawn Langdon 3.743, 324.51
5. JR Todd 3.810, 269.46
6. Leah Pritchett 3.811, 263.67
7. Antron Brown 3.745, 317.42
8. Tripp Tatum 3.988, 241.80